The Holzhausen, A European Method For Stacking Wood

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I had proposed to A Farm Guy a few months back that we should stack our wood using the holzhousen method.   This method can be found across Europe and has been around for many centuries.  It was primarily used in the process of clearing land; trees could be cut down, split, and stacked wherever the landowner was working at the time.

It’s a self standing structure which does not need to be braced or stacked in a wood shed.  The technique is simple, and built in a circle format allowing for the wood to support itself.  Stacking wood in the traditional fashion ~flat stacked upon each other~ does not give it enough room for airflow to pass through, therefore not allowing the wood to dry quickly. The holzhausen method has plenty of airflow, and it is said that wood can dry up to 2 times faster.

It took a bit of time for my darling farm guy to process this in his carpenter’s mind, but he quickly realized that a circular structure is more durable than anything one can build, and keeping the wood away from the house also meant keeping the wood ants and termites away.

Building the structure is easy, and there really isn’t much thought that goes into it.  The base is roughly about 8 to 10 feet in diameter, and will usually stand about 6 to 9 feet high.  Our holzhausens stand about 6 feet high and 8 feet across at the base, holding a little over 4 cords of wood; the size of a structure is up to you and the needs of your homestead.
 

The first step is to create a base, and establishing the width you’d like to have it be.

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As you place your first row of wood, you can see that it is angling down.  The process of angel stacking begins early on in the process.

Once you have the base established we suggest you build it up to about 2 feet tall and  begin filling in the center.  The ideal pieces for the center would be oddly split wood, branches, and even kindling.

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In order for the water to drain, and to continue the tapering process, you will need to use spacers to lift a row.  How often you need to add spacers and where you will need it depends on the shape of your cut pieces.  The way the wood fits together allows for minor spacing, and airflow to flow through the structure.

As you can see, this is a solid structure; an older boy of ours is standing on the top of it, he even took joy in making me nervous by jumping on it!

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When we first shared the holzhausen method onto our FB page it brought forth a few questions, so I thought we’d address them here.

Some thought that this method would time a lot longer to stack than stacking in a traditional method.  I have to tell you , that it does not.  A Farm Guy states that this method is much faster than stacking in a wood box, you do not have to worry about making pieces fit together or stacking them tight.  With a holzhausen you can put any size of wood wherever you wish; no puzzle to piece together, no extra wood box to build.  As A Farm Guy split the wood I was stacking as fast as he was able to split it.  The method is so easy to do that our 7 and 10 year old were able to assist us in stacking…we are teaching them young!

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A few thought that the wood would remain wet from rain or snow, and have a hard time drying.  Because you are stacking your wood at an inward angle the water rolls right off, unlike flat stacking there is never standing water causing the wood to rot. 

Some holzhausens are built with roofs, some simply have tarps on them (ours have tarps), but many Europeans and Americans alike have stated that it is not necessary to have either.

We move wood from the structure to our front porch, roughly enough for 2 days, and then move a large stack indoors.  This allows for any wood to be wet to dry off in time to burn.  We do not have a large porch, so 2 days at a time is all that will fit.
 

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I won’t lie, I love looking at our 3 holzhausens.  They are visually nice to see, and looking at 10 cords of wood makes me think of how warm we will be!

 

 

 
 
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Comments

  1. Thinking about trying this with a load of wood that was delivered yesterday. I’m curious to hear if the structure still held up as you removed wood over the winter?

    • I did. Pulling from a circle and center was an easy process, and after 3 winters we still utilize this method.

  2. Damn, I’m about two feet high into building my first holzhausen. I think I have made a mistake in assuming that the split logs need to sit bark-side-up. Is this going to be bad in terms of the drying capability of each piece due to the top barked bit acting as a seal against natural evaporation? Do I need to dismantle and start again? ?

  3. Hi, We also stack our wood this way and like it a lot. One point in your article is, I think, a mistake. If your holzhausen is 8 feet diameter strait up (not conical) for 6 feet is would be 2.35 chords of wood. A chord being 128 cubic feet. It’s nice to see this method might be catching on in the states.

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